“He who is not contented with what he has, would not be contented with what he would like to have.” – Socrates
Contentment does not come easy for me. Accepting everything in my life, both the good and not so good, as a gift from God, is a slow gradual process. I’m sure that is true of most people. Why? Because for God to be in control of my life, and remain in control no matter where life’s currents may take me, means that I recognize that I have all I need in Jesus.
The question is how can we learn to be content. Paul answers that question in Philippians 4:10-11. ”I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.”
Paul is the model for contentment. There are not many people who would be content with his circumstances. I wish Paul had offered a magic pill for contentment. I wish there were 12 steps to contentment, or Cliff Notes or a class I could enroll in college. But there is not, because contentment must be learned over time.
Nor will contentment come easy, but it will come if we lean on God and work at the lessons God gave to teach us contentment. Paul takes the opportunity to teach by example. The teaching was that he had learned in whatever situation he was in to be content. What a powerful statement. Paul was content in prison and was content amidst all the uncertainly in his life.
There are many examples of those who learned contentment in the Bible. Think of Joseph. He was sold by his brothers, wrongfully imprisoned, and mistreated. He learned that God works all things together for good and was content in his God. Remember Daniel. He was righteous but was taken into captivity by the Babylonians and even thrown into a lion’s den. He affirmed that God rules over all and that all are beneath his sovereign rule.
Do you wish you could say that in any circumstance? The idea is in Hebrews 13:5 “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” Paul speaks to this issue in 1 Timothy 6:6: “But godliness with contentment is great gain.” Again Paul speaks in 2 Corinthians 12:10: “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
Contentment begins to grow when we learn and then embrace the fact that our greatest asset in this life is our relationship with the Savior. “I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength.” Paul could face and know joy in any and every circumstance because of the strength he found in Christ. So can we.
1. Are you content? Would you like to be content? Do not think contentment changes when circumstances change? If you are struggling with health, finances, relationships, employment, etc., do you believe you can be content in those circumstances?
2. Make a mental list of the times that you are content and when you are not. Pray that God will teach you through those life experiences how to be content.
3. Is there someone in your life that has learned contentment in tough times? Ask questions and see what you can learn from them.
4. Above all, be in prayer. Philippians 4:6 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Pray that the Lord through His Spirit will teach you contentment.